Health ministry joint secretary Lav Agarwal on Tuesday during the daily Covid-19 briefing said that only one state reported ‘suspected’ death due to lack of medical oxygen during the second wave of Covid-19. The centre also said that no other state has reported COVID-related deaths due to the shortage of oxygen supplies during the second wave this year.
However, he did not mention the name of the state reporting such cases. According to sources, it is being said that Punjab has reported deaths due to oxygen shortages. The Centre sought data from all states and Union Territories on deaths due to shortage of oxygen to which only 13 states and Union Territories responded. Of these, only Punjab had reported four “suspected” deaths due to oxygen shortage, according to the sources. The government’s enquiry was initiated after the issue was raised in Parliament. The country had faced a major crisis of shortage in medical resources, especially oxygen, when the second wave peaked in April-May this year. Such was the shortfall that India had to import the vital gas from several countries on an emergency basis. Several people died in this crisis. After this, major controversy sparked when the Union government had earlier told Parliament last month that “no deaths due to lack of oxygen have been specifically reported by states and Union Territories”. It said the states had not provided any data on this front.